Monday, November 26, 2007


Finalmente!! Photos!!

I finally found another internet cafe that is configured to take our USB photo thingy! I have a horrid cold and no voice but otherwise we are well. Toby has decided he likes learning spanish which is a good thing since they started with full morning lessons today. Dave and another guy from Sweden have now joined our class previously of two and significantly ratcheted up the level. Vicky (from England) and I are struggling!! This weekend we did two cool excursions. We went Saturday to El Explorador - a totally wacky garden with found objects, piped classical music, play things, inspirational sayings and flowers. The kids loved it. Sunday we hired a cab to take us to the end of the road below Volcan Baru to the ranger station where the Quetzals trail started. You need 4wd to get there and then hike a very rough road for acouple km then join the trail. Beautiful cloud forest, towering trees, wild epiphites, wild green parrots, rushing rivers, mud, sun, sheepherders. We just finished reading Heidi and the first part of the hike was almost like Switzerland - sheep, herders huts, pine trees, flowers, then you drop ontot the otherside where it turns into cloud forest with thick trees and lush undergrowth. Mostly indigenous folks work up in the mountains (Ngobe Bugle). The kids did great with the hike which took almost 4 hours and involved getting Cassidy´s new red shoes totally mud coated (minor fit here). Unfortunately, the hike did me in and my cold set in for real. Here are some pictures from the hike and garden and our house.
from Toby; "We went to the Explorador, we saw funny things there . there was some sewing machines which had faces which were funny. We went to the mi jardin es su jardin, and there was cool bridges shaped like golden gate bridges but you couldnt drive on them you could only walk.there was wooden sculptures and a little salted sea village which had been recovered from water. and there was a tunnel covered with vines. this is back to cassidy
from Cassidy "I had fun at the Explorador. There was a little science cab. I had so much fun on the swings. we played billy goat gruff on the bridges.

Friday, November 23, 2007

First week

I have a few more minutes to post this time but still no picutures. Hopefully Monday! I am just finishing up my first week of classes, it feels frustratingly slow because I want to be able to communicate right away but my teacher says we are zipping along. We better be because Dave joins us next week and he is definitely more advanced than me! The kids like their teacher (who speaks no English which frustrates Toby sometimes). Cass will sing in class (Barney in spanish) but not talk much. We worry that 4 hrs a day will be too much for them next week but that is how long our class is - they will do lots of activities but we may have to find a way to make it only 3 hrs then one of video. They are struggling a bit to adjust, they like it here but get cranky very easily. Toby hasnt been eating much even though we are trying to replicate US food for now. He loves rice fortunately, he just seems to have lost his appetite. Cassidy does great and then has these fits that scare everyone!" Im sure it will just take some time for them to settle. Fortunatley our cabana is great and a very comfortable place to hang out. There is a great yard to run around in.

Boquete is a nice town, definitely cenral america but you randomly see gringos wandering the streets all the time. In the hills we were live it is mixed between luxury houses and shacks for coffee plantation workers. Just beyond our house is a big plantation and most of the workers seem to be natives - Ngobe people. It is one big cinderblock dorm with outdoor bathrooms and no windows. The kids smile and wave at us and I think how completely different their lives our from ours. Its hard for our kids to even fathom their life and they are practically across the street.
I am hiking up the Quetzal trail with my class today and hopefully with the kids this weekend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here we are on our 2nd full day in Boquete. The travel from FL was uneventful but tiring - cassidy fell asleep on the taxi ride to our hotel in Alujela CR. I am on a short break from spanish class so wont write much and this keyboard stinks. Spent the night in CR then took the morning flight to David Panama - HOT!! Big bus shuttle took us to Boquete (Cass immediately fell asleep) arrived midday. The temp here is great - there is usually a cool breeze or light mist. It is encircled by mountains, fruit trees everywhere. We are living in a litle cabana with an upstairs sleeping loft (spiral staircase) and downstairs bedroom. Very light and clean with a nice small yard. It is a 30 min walk down into town or taxi or bus ride. I have taken 2 days of spanish and the kids start one hour a day today! Town is loud but nice, glad we are living up the hill though it will be a bit of a pain. Gardens everywhere that Cass loves. I will try to post photos soon. Kids are being great travelers despite all the upheaval. >love to all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


We will be staying in Boquete and Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro - all at the west end of Panama. Check it out on this map!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Headed South

Well this is it folks! Dave and the kids headed to Tampa FL yesterday for some extra time with Susannah, Brad, Allison and Timmer and grandpa Bill. I needed to put in one more week of work so Im going to miss out on Busch Gardens, the zoo, beach etc :(. Poor me!
I arrive in Florida Friday, we head to Miami Saturday and Sunday morning we're on a plane to San Jose Costa Rica. We spend one night there and then fly on Monday to David Panama. From there we head up to Boquete in the Chiriqui Highlands for 4 weeks of spanish school. We have rented a small apartment right in town and all four of us will take classes in the morning and then have the afternoons free to explore. There is an internet cafe downstairs from our school so I imagine we will be online several times a day. We will be anxious to hear from folks while we are traveling and the kids in particular would love emails from friends if parents are able to get there kids to dicate a few messages!
Dec 17th we head to the islands to meet up with Dave's dad for Christmas. We have rented a house on Bocas del Toro right on the beach and Toby has high hopes of learning to surf from his grandpa!! The day after Christmas we head to Costa Rica overland through Puerta Viejo and eventually end up in Monteverde for the month of January. We are renting a small house there and volunteering with the Cloud Forest School ( ), a bi-lingual preK-12 environmental education school. After Monteverde we stop through Florida again for 5 days before heading to Chile and Argentina on Feb 7th and finally return to the states June 2, spend a few more weeks in New England then drive back to Colorado by July 1. So that is the overview of our next whirlwind 7 months. Wish us luck!! We will miss you all!!

Contacting us: Email is going to be the best way to reach us the whole time. Mail to Panama supposedly takes forever so I wont bother giving you an address there. We can get mail c/o the Cloud Forest School in Monteverde and it should take only 10-15 days (dont send boxes, only envelope packages and letters). That address is: c/o Andrea Paltzer, Program Coordinator Centro de Educacion Creativa Apartado 23-5655 Monteverde, Puntarenas, COSTA RICA

Halloween in VT

After a month of decorating Meme's house for trick or treaters (to fully understand the irony of this you need to try to find E. Barnard on a map - it is in the middle of NOWHERE!) Toby and Cassidy were VERY ready for Halloween. Thanks to my aunt Gale's amazing forsight both kids have had costumes since August. Toby was a blue M&M and Cassidy a cheetah. Since the Village of E. Barnyard (as the kids call it) only has 9 kids (including ours) and the houses are few and far between we decided to head to the realtive metropolis of Woodstock with their friend Hannah for the big candy haul. Woodstock focuses all of its trick or treating energy on one street which is closed off to traffic. The town Rec Dept. buys candy for the residents to give out and they really go all out decorating for the onslaught of kids. I have never seen more creatively carved pumpkins in one place (did you know you can hang pumpkins in string hammocks from your trees for a great effect?!) and skeletons, spider webs, ghosts, graveyard - they take this holiday seriously!! Supposedly the headless horseman comes out later in the evening but we missed him.
The extra special treat for us all for Halloween was that Heather L (Cassidy's godmother) was able to join us for the night as a side visit on a recruiting trip for CRMS. She was very impressed by the quintessential vermontness of the whole scene and we all had a blast. No one even threw up from all the candy they collected!!

October Visitors Park 3-Grad School Friends

The second to last week in October was Missoula week for us. We got to see 3 different sets of friends from our time at graduate school in Missoula. Meg and Sidney were visiting the lower 48 from their home in Alaska, Kathryn and Carl were visiting from Idaho and Katy who lives in Burlington VT! Carl had just gotten back from fly-fishing guiding in Mongolia (for trout like fish that are as big as Cassidy) and they were visiting Kathryn's mom in Cornwall VT. Kathryn and Dave actually went to 5th grade together in Woodstock and realized their shared history when we met up thru the EVST program in Msla! Meg and Sidney spent a nice sunny day with us hiking around the woods near Penny's house trying to find Olivers Cave (unsuccessfully) and then we all met up with Katy (Toby's godmother) and her awesome fiance John (congrats guys!!!) to see a great bluegrass show in Montpelier. Katy and John spent the next day with us which unfortunately was pouring rain! Of course, all of our visitors got to either press cider or eat a heavily apple focused meal :) We feel so fortunate to have such great friends from our MT years that we stay in touch with!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

October Visitors Part 2 - Bowdoin Reunion

Our great friends from Bowdoin College, Pam and Eric Loeb and Matt and Jen Samuelson and their 2 and 3 kids respectively all gathered in E. Barnard Oct 20th weekend for a mini-reunion of sorts. Toby and Eli (9) were outnumbered by girls pretty heavily but they weathered the girl drama very well by burying their heads in legos and periodically coming up to run around outside. It was our first chilly weekend of the fall so the Baltimore (Loeb) contingent looked a bit cold but we all had a blast. We picked apples and made cider (of course!) and did a short hike on the Appalachian Trail and otherwise hung out at our friends the Woodwards house just over the hill who so generously lent their house for the weekend. It is so fabulous to see the kids of our good friends becoming good friends themselves. We got to see the Samuelson family (Matt, Jen, Emily (6), Hannah (4) and Paige (2)) again last weekend at their house in Manchester and the kids had a blast. We think Cassidy is ready to secede from our family and join theirs – they have the girl thing down perfect. Cassidy came out of the girls rooms and said in a dreamy voice “those girls have some really PINK rooms!”. I think she probably wore 10 different princess gown, ballerina, fairy combinations in an 8 hour visit! Toby and Emily had a great time and he introduced a new level of testosterone in the house. We taught Matt how to do the mentos and diet coke experiment in preparation for Emily’s birthday party with 9 girls and 2 boys!! Good clean (I mean messy) fun!

October Visitors Part 1 - COUSINS!

October was our month of visitors – perfect because we were all really starting to miss our Colorado friends. (I will break this up into several posts to get the photos to work)

Dave’s sister Susannah and her kids Allison (4) and Timmer (2) (Martz) came for the first week of October from Florida. We were a bit worried about that many kids in Penny’s small house particularly because the girls (9 weeks apart) had a serious love hate thing going last year when they were three and Toby struggled with his boy cousin in his toddler years but turns our all our worries were for naught. The kids got along amazingly! Cassidy and Allison were inseparable from the start and were so happy hanging out with each other. They were even roomies for a few nights. Timmer absolutely adored his big boy cousin and his uncle Dave and Toby put up very well with being followed around by an admirer. He learned to tell Timmer that he wasn’t ready to talk yet in the morning (since he normally wakes up 2 hours after T and T would be pretty wound up by the time he came downstairs for breakfast). Then Timmer learned to turn that language around on us when HE woke up from his nap and would say “I not ready for talkin’, I gouchy (=grouchy)”. We had two visits with the Middlebury cousins while the Florida crew was here which was fun. Unfortunately I had to work that week so Suz and Dave did major kid duty and Suz in particular had the littles for a lot of the time. Toby and Dave had boys night out and saw the opening of the new Chris Sharma climbing movie in Hanover – Toby loved it!

Eating Vermont Style

Eating Vermont
Living in Vermont has shown all of us how amazing it can be to live in a verdant land. There are about 8 apple trees on the property (including one “Papple” tree which is a pear tree that cross pollinated with its neighboring apple tree) so we have apples coming out our ears! We have been making apple cider every weekend and drink nothing but that, water and milk. We have apples for snacks, apple sauce is a fun kid project and there have been many apple pies, apple crisps and apple cobblers! (We will welcome the change to mangos and bananas when we head south!). The garden has been producing all fall thanks to the unusually warm weather we’ve had here (global warming anyone?!). Aside from a splurge on broccoli now and then we have been making salads solely from the backyard – the kids love the process of harvesting the food and then revisiting it at the dinner table. We buy eggs from a neighbor down the hill who usually throws in a few purple potatoes because it thrills the kids so much. Since there are actually still working dairies in Vermont you can buy local milk and cheese at most stores and the local store sells beef from our neighboring farmers whose kids Dave went to school with. The kids usually make bread with their Meme once a week. There is a diner outside of Woodstock about 15 miles away which was mentioned in Barbara Kingsolver’s new book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” called the Farmers Diner which is typical diner fare but primarily with local ingredients – and its not any more expensive than the Red Rock Diner in Cdale!! . It is really inspiring how seriously Vermonters take the idea of eating locally and how truly easy it is here. Inspires me to plant a better garden next year in Carbondale but unfortunately we will be getting a very late start!!